In the year 2016, the number of veterans in the United States was close to 20.4 million that had served in our military both active and in reserve status. With that number being considerably larger today Fannin County High School came together with staff, students, and community to recognize close to 60 local men and women for their service.
On Wednesday morning the FCHS Performing Arts Center was the location for a special celebration. There were very few empty seats if any as the FCHS Symphonic Band opened the ceremony with the playing of patriotic music. FCHS Principal Erik Cioffi welcomed all in attendance. Kathryn Young, representing the freshman class announced the Presentation of Colors. The North Georgia Honor Guard Presented the American Flag followed by flags representing each branch of service. A very special flag was also presented and placed on the stage. The POW-MIA(Prisoner of War-Missing in Action) flag serves as a reminder that since WWII there are over 83,000 soldiers that have not returned home to their families.
With each branch flag presented, those who served under that flag stood and were recognized as a group. With all colors presented, The Pledge of Allegiance was recited followed by the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. Next up, Sophomore representative Hernan Mares recognized each branch and the FCHS Band Played the Salute to the Armed Forces with the song of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Gaurd. The arena was filled with applause as veterans and current soldiers stood during the music representing the branch of service.
FCHS Senior Chase Culpepper had the honor to introduce the special guest speaker for the day’s event. His Father, Mr. Shan Culpepper a veteran of the Army Reserves( 6 years from 1991-1997) and also a history teacher for the high school spoke of the history and the meaning of Veterans Day. Culpepper also spoke of how he became a soldier and a teacher after graduating from the University of Georgia.
The recognition of the veterans individually was the highlight of the day. Each veteran had his or her name announced along with branch, years of service as they were greeted on the stage with handshakes and applause. Just before the retiring of the Colors, Chase Culpepper returned to the podium to speak the history of “Taps”. Taps is played to end the day and more recognized played at home going celebrations of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and for the funerals of veterans. Thomas Bartholf stood up midst the Symphonic Band with his horn in hand to play TAPS to a quiet audience. Tears filled the eyes of veterans and other attendees as the sounds of sadness and memory filled the auditorium. With the retiring of the Colors and the closing remarks from Principle Cioffi, another veteran recognition ceremony came to an end. Refreshments were served to veterans and their families by the high school where the stories were many and the friendships will last forever.